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Symmetry, Asymmetry, and Literary Humanism
In this book, Walter H. Beale seeks to bring together the disciplines of linguistics, rhetoric, and literary studies through the concept of symmetry (how words mirror thought, society, and our vision of the world). Citing thinkers from antiquity to the present, Beale provides an in-depth study of linguistic theory, development, and practice. He views the historic division between the schools of symmetry and asymmetry (a belief that language developed as a structure independent of human experience), as built into the character of language itself, and as an impediment to literary humanism (the combined study of language, rhetoric, and literature to improve the competence and character of the individual). In his analysis, Beale outlines and critiques traditional claims of symmetry, then offers new avenues of approach to the subject. In doing so, he examines how important issues of human culture and consciousness have parallels in processes of language; how linguistic patterns relate to pervasive human problems; how language is an active participant in the expression, performance, and construction of reality; the concepts of designating versus naming; figurative language as a process of reenvisioning reality; and the linking of style to virtue by the ancients. Beale concludes that both asymmetrical and symmetrical elements exist in language, each with their own relevance, and that they are complementary, rather than opposing philosophies. The basic intuitions of symmetry that relate language to life are powerful and important to all of English studies. Combined with a love for the workings, sounds, and structures of language, Beale says, an understanding of symmetry can help guide the pursuit of literary humanism.
Crime and Terror in the Latin American Cultural Text
Ileana Rodríguez considers several Latin American nations that govern under the name of liberalism yet display a shocking range of nondemocratic features. In her political, cultural, and philosophical analysis, she examines these environments in which liberalism seems to have reached its limits, as the universalizing project gives way to rampant nonstate violence, gross inequality, and neocolonialism. Focusing on Guatemala, Colombia, and Mexico, Rodríguez shows how standard liberal models fail to account for new forms of violence and exploitation, which in fact follow from specific clashes between liberal ideology and local practice. Looking at these tensions within the ostensibly well-ordered state, Rodríguez exposes how the misunderstanding and misuse of liberal principles are behind realities of political turmoil, and questions whether liberalism is in fact an ideology sufficient to empower populations and transition nation-states into democratic roles in the global order. In this way, Liberalism at Its Limits offers a critical examination of the forced fitting of liberal models to Latin American nations and reasserts cross-cultural communication as crucial to grasping the true link between varying systems of value and politics.
Water and the Making of the Modern City
As people crowded into British cities in the nineteenth century, industrial and biological waste byproducts and then epidemic followed. Britons died by the thousands in recurring plagues. Figures like Edwin Chadwick and John Snow pleaded for measures that could save lives and preserve the social fabric. The solution that prevailed was the novel idea that British towns must build public water supplies, replacing private companies. But the idea was not an obvious or inevitable one. Those who promoted new waterworks argued that they could use water to realize a new kind of British society—a productive social machine, a new moral community, and a modern civilization. They did not merely cite the dangers of epidemic or scarcity. Despite many debates and conflicts, this vision won out—in town after town, from Birmingham to Liverpool to Edinburgh, authorities gained new powers to execute municipal water systems. But in London local government responded to environmental pressures with a plan intended to help remake the metropolis into a collectivist society. The Conservative national government, in turn, sought to impose a water administration over the region that would achieve its own competing political and social goals. The contestants over London’s water supply matched divergent strategies for administering London’s water with contending visions of modern society. And the matter was never pedestrian. The struggle over these visions was joined by some of the most colorful figures of the late Victorian period, including John Burns, Lord Salisbury, Bernard Shaw, and Sidney and Beatrice Webb. As Broich demonstrates, the debate over how to supply London with water came to a head when the climate itself forced the endgame near the end of the nineteenth century. At that decisive moment, the Conservative party succeeded in dictating the relationship between water, power, and society in London for many decades to come.
Looking for The Gulf Motel offers a genealogy of the heart: how Blanco’s family’s emotional legacy has shaped—and continues shaping—his Latino identity, sexual identity. and understanding of the big questions of life and death.
“Sometimes we have questions that seem to defy answers or even suppositions but then we find Love and Strange Horses to help us map out a course to continue loving life. A really wonderful, thoughtful read by an intriguing new voice.” —Nikki Giovanni
Selected and New Poems
Love on the Streets is a selection of poems from four of Doubiago’s books of poetry, two of which are book-length poems, plus new poetry. It is the culmination of thirty years of writing “on the road.”
Housing in Czechoslovakia, 1945-1960
Eastern European prefabricated housing blocks are often vilified as the visible manifestations of everything that was wrong with state socialism. For many inside and outside the region, the uniformity of these buildings became symbols of the dullness and drudgery of everyday life. Manufacturing a Socialist Modernity complicates this common perception. Analyzing the cultural, intellectual, and professional debates surrounding the construction of mass housing in early postwar Czechoslovakia, Zarecor shows that these housing blocks served an essential function in the planned economy and reflected an interwar aesthetic, derived from constructivism and functionalism, that carried forward into the 1950s. With a focus on prefabricated and standardized housing built from 1945 to 1960, Zarecor offers broad and innovative insights into the country’s transition from capitalism to state socialism. She demonstrates that during this shift, architects and engineers consistently strove to meet the needs of Czechs and Slovaks despite challenging economic conditions, a lack of material resources, and manufacturing and technological limitations. In the process, architects were asked to put aside their individual creative aspirations and transform themselves into technicians and industrial producers. Manufacturing a Socialist Modernity is the first comprehensive history of architectural practice and the emergence of prefabricated housing in the Eastern Bloc. Through discussions of individual architects and projects, as well as building typologies, professional associations, and institutional organization, it opens a rare window into the cultural and economic life of Eastern Europe during the early postwar period.
“Always a poet of authentic promise, with A Map of the Lost World Rick Hilles emerges into an importance that may rival such poets as Henri Cole and Rosanna Warren. I find it immensely moving that he evokes dead poets for whom I cared personally as well as critically, including James Wright and James Merrill. Beyond that he adds what may be a new dimension to our poetry by evoking the shade of Walter Benjamin and with it the tragedy of European Jewry. I emerge from this book somber yet fortified because like Kafka it reminds us of a kind of indestructibility of the human spirit.” —Harold Bloom
This edited volume presents an original analysis of the role of sound in Latin American and Caribbean societies, from the late nineteenth century to the present. The contributors examine the importance of sound in the purveyance of power, gender roles, race, community, religion, and populism. They also demonstrate how sound is essential to the formation of citizenship and nationalism.